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Robert Ross officially jumps into state Senate race


State Rep. Robert Ross officially launched his state Senate campaign this week for SD 33. 

Ross, a Republican who has represented HD 142 in southern Missouri since 2013, was expected to jump into the race to replace term-limited Sen. Mike Cunningham. GOP state Rep. Karla Eslinger officially jumped into the race last month. 

“With the near constant attack from an ever-growing state and federal bureaucracy, now is not the time for on the job training,” Ross said in an email to supporters Tuesday. “I have the proven record to be ready on day one to fight for us in Jefferson City as our next state senator.” 

“I saw this as an opportunity to continue serving an area and the people that I love here — being able to fight for their values and their interests in a building that always has competing opinions about everything,” Ross told The Missouri Times in an interview. 

Ross is a professional land surveyor in his district, a job he said has “taught [him] the importance of wise planning and having a clear vision — traits we see less and less of in government.” He pointed to his efforts of advocating for gun and individual property rights as proof he has “led the charge in protecting our rural values every day.” 

But Ross noted his work with the House Budget Committee, on which he’s served for seven years, has been a particular point of pride — especially his work to remove funding to abortion providers through the appropriations process. (The state is in a legal dispute with Planned Parenthood over appropriations for the 2019 fiscal year; the Missouri Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case earlier Tuesday.)

Through the budget process, Ross said he serves as a “watchdog to the taxpayers” who is “continuing to advocate for accountability for how tax dollars are spent.” 

Aside from his work on the Budget Committee, Ross has chaired the House Government Oversight and Professional Registration and Licensing committees while in the General Assembly. 

Cunningham, a Republican from Rogersville, has already endorsed Eslinger. But Ross said his experience, accomplishments, and relationships with other legislatures will make him stand out among the SD 33 constituents. 

“Robert Ross has been a solid conservative in the House,” Jim Lembke, senior advisor to the Conservative Leadership PAC, told The Missouri Times. “He will be a welcome addition to the Senate.”

Ross reported having nearly $127,000 cash on hand at the end of the October quarterly filing. Eslinger, on the other hand, reported nearly $800. And former Rep. Van Kelly’s active campaign committee for the district had more than $86,000 at the end of October.